Thursday, 1 September 2016

#BookReview - Ready Player One (#ReadThemAllThon)

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Broadway Books
Published: November 16, 2011
Number of Pages: 372
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Dystopian, Thriller
Date Read: August 14-18, 2016
Acquired: Borrowed from a friend


In the not too distant future (2044 to be precise) the world has become a crapsack place to live.

Most people choose to escape reality by spending their days jacked into the Matrix OASIS, including our hero Wade Watts. The OASIS is a virtual world, vast and magnificent; you can be anyone you want to be there and do or create anything you can afford. The OASIS was the brain child of James Halliday a true visionary with an obsessive love for all things related to 80s pop culture in all its forms.

When James Halliday dies a new game begins in the OASIS, the ultimate lottery. Halliday has hidden an easter egg deep inside the game code hidden behind a series of puzzles and challenges that will lead ultimate power and control over the OASIS itself and a multi-billion dollar fortune to the person who can unlock it first. For 5 years millions have tried to crack the code and become the winner, many people, including Wade make hunting for this egg their primary job, they're called gunters. Wade is an obsessive gunter learning everything he can about all of Halliday's passions looking for anything that could be the clue to lead him to the first puzzle.

And then one day he stumbles across it.

From there he's plunged into not just the hunt for the egg, but into a fight for his life. Will Wade and the new friends he makes along the way survive long enough against the might of the world's most powerful ISP long enough to find the egg and ensure the survival of not only themselves but the very soul of the OASIS?


I've been hearing the hype about this book since it came out  back in 2011, but I was always scared to pick it up even though it sounded like exactly the kind of book I would love. I was scared because of the hype, I didn't want to pick it up and then end up disappointed. (Interestingly enough that was why it took me until Goblet of Fire to finally get into Harry Potter and if you're reading my blog you know how that turned out.) My coworker Melanie absolutely LOVES this book, it's one of her favourites, so when I mentioned I hadn't read it yet she insisted that I must and leant me her copy. I had it sitting on my desk for about a month or so when the #ReadThemAllThon came to my attention. One of the tasks for that was to read a book that had thunderous hype, and I immediately knew that this one fit the bill so I slotted it in and then at that point I was super excited to get to it so I read it first.

As you'll see from that lovely set of lightning bolts, I really liked this book. It definitely verged on unputdownable territory, I say verged on it because there were some parts that annoyed me.

Wade is a great main character. He tells you straight off the bat that he knows his name sounds like a superhero name, that's exactly why his parents named him that way. Even before he said that though, the minute I saw his alliterative name and his first name specifically I kept picturing him as Deadpool and, well, that's just really not a great mental comparison to make because he's not anything like Wade Wilson really so I had to keep shaking that off. Another mental comparison I started making early on and had to keep shaking was the comparison to Johnny Mnemonic, which I suspect was 100% intentional on Cline's part. The technology used to access the OASIS at the beginning of the novels is straight out of  the Mnemonic area of  VR tech. (Later on of course the whole thing starts to feel very Matrix-y) There is nothing wrong with these comparisons though because they fit with the larger theme of the novel as an homage/love letter to everything geeky and nerdy from the 80s. Back to Wade though, as a character Wade is a pretty reliable narrator, he always gives the audience the information we need when we need it and he relating things in a very engaging way that keeps them interesting.

The diversity from the supporting cast is nice to have; and the twist with Aech was poignant and sadly 100% accurate in it's purpose and social commentary.

This book can simultaneously make you super happy because it just constantly pricks your nostalgia censors. At the same time though it can make you sad and depressed because like with classic dystopian novels/films like 1984 or Brave New World or WallE  or The Matrix you can totally see the world heading in this exact direction and that is a scary thing. The social commentary aspect of this book is as equally important as its nostalgia porn factor.

If you like 80s pop culture, cyberpunk, and/or dystopian novels this book is definitely for you. And if you don't like any of those things, I might suggest you still try it just because it's a very clever book!

I definitely want to read more of Cline's work myself, and I think I need to purchase a copy and then shelve it next to Brave New World.

No comments:

Post a Comment